When Death Strikes Close

As we grey and the years get behind us inevitably we begin losing friends. When it’s someone in the prime of their life it’s a punch to the gut.

I had not seen Darius Campbell Danesh for some years and I learnt of his recent and tragicdeath on my social media newsfeed. He passed away in August and I feel quite some guilt for not knowing of his death until some months after the event.

In another era Darius and I lived on the same street in Sherman Oaks, a hillside suburb of Los Angeles, and on Sunday evening he often came to my house to watch double features of The Sopranos. In 2005 there was no Netflix where you crammed in an entire season in a day if you fancied. Then — it was a Sunday night tradition amongst my circle of friends to assemble an Italian meal then gather in my cinema to watch the previous week’s episode of The Sopranos before the premier of a new episode at 10pm.

Darius was gifted. He attained fame in England from appearances on Popstars and later Pop Idol as well as two studio albums and several #1 hits. He played the leads in a number of West End stage shows before venturing to Los Angeles.

The things I remember most about him was his charm. He was a tall, imposing young Glaswegian with a blunt smile and reserved personality. Although he had several number one hit songs in the UK, he was never one to brag about himself. He made a very good foil to his wife, the actress Natasha Henstridge.

Sopranos night went each Sunday for a few years until I moved to the beach. I saw Darius on the odd occasion at Iwata—a sushi hangout on Ventura Blvd—and he and his wife attended a couple of Rock & Republic events. But like all things, life gets in the way. Life changes occur and our friends drift away. I was saddened when I learnt that at just 41 years of age Darius accidentally over-sedated from inhalation of chloroethane, which led to respiratory arrest. He used chloroethane in addition to physiotherapy to treat neck pain he suffered in a car accident in Spain. His death was ruled an accident. He was alone in his apartment in Rochester, Minnesota where he was performing in the road tour of a Broadway musical.

The news filled me with sadness. Both for the death of this talented young man, but also for the life we all had when we were younger.

Life continues. As it does.

We carry on. As we are meant to.

Life is filled with new joy. Children. Time spent with loved ones. At this Christmas time, I reflect upon how blessed I have been to have carried on. To have grown and to be able to witness life as my old friend Darius no longer can.

Poor chap.

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